Dark clouds had gathered over Juba’s renovated football stadium, but for the 15,000 people who had turned up in South Sudan’s capital it was a time for celebration.
A little under 24 hours after South Sudan became the newest country on earth after declaring its independence from Khartoum — a bloody battle it had waged intermittently since the 1950s — the first true test of the fledgling republic took place.
On July 10, South Sudan played its very first international football match, becoming not just the youngest nation on earth, but the youngest national football team too.
“We were all very emotional as it was the first time that our national team played, singing the national anthem,” recalled Makuac Teny, Minister for Sport in the newly-formed South Sudan government.
South Sudan becomes newest U.N. member state
Like the rest of the crowd, he had gathered to watch his team take on Kenyan Premier League side Tusker F.C. for a match whose result, for once, wasn’t important. “It was the first time our song was heard,” explained Teny…
“The honor goes to Kenya, the first country to hear the national anthem of Sudan. They honored us. That was a win in itself, to hear the national anthem played. Although they won 3-1, I knew the flag of Southern Sudan would be raised.”
Bravo. Congratulations to our South Sudan brothers and sisters.